An independent special prosecutor is most definitely necessary to investigate whether President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign was tied to Russia in any way.
On May 9, The New York Times reported that Trump had fired James Comey, who at the time was the director of the FBI. At the time, Comey was leading an investigation into whether members of Trump's campaign had collaborated with the Russian government in order to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In a letter written by Trump to Comey, which was released by the White House, Trump laid out his reasoning for firing Comey.
"While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau," the letter read.
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While Trump's letter implies that Comey's firing had nothing to do with his investigation, and everything to do with his ability to lead, the opposite could not be truer. Several of the circumstances surrounding Comey's firing are suspicious. With this in mind, it is clear that an independent investigation -- one over which Trump has no influence -- is necessary to get to the bottom of things.
One troubling aspect of Comey's firing -- and one that suggests that Trump may have been acting with the intent to cover something up -- is the event's timing. On March 15, Comey met with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California (the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary committee) and Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, reports the Los Angeles Times. In the classified session, Comey laid out his plans for the investigation.
According to Feinstein, the fact that Comey was fired now -- and not when Trump assumed the presidency in January -- is not what was expected.
"To have this happen and happen now is beyond surprising," she said.
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In fact, Feinstein has found Trump's firing of Comey to be so suspicious that she wants Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appear before her committee to explain its circumstances.
Another suspicious aspect of Comey's firing was the involvement of both Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
According to NPR, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a statement following Comey's firing on May 9.
"President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both [Rosenstein] and [Sessions]."
However, two days later, on May 11, Trump said something in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt which contradicted that statement.
"Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey," Trump said, reports NPR. His statement implies that the decision was made without the advice of either Rosenstein or Sessions.
On its own, this change in position is highly troubling. However, when one considers Sessions' possible involvement with Russia, it becomes even more so. According to NPR, back in March, Sessions agreed to recuse himself from all investigation into Trump's campaign. If the White House's original statement, is true, it means that Trump not only lied during his interview, but that Sessions did not honor his commitment to stay uninvolved from the investigation.
While nothing blatantly illegal has been uncovered as a result of investigations, it is clear to many that there is something very suspicious going on, and that Trump is most definitely involved. The fact that Trump fired Comey shows that he is working in his own self-interest, and is trying to keep the truth from being heard. With this in mind, an independent investigation -- conducted by someone whose job Trump does not control -- is most certainly the correct course of action.